Defining Designs

Local pros share the new Nashville structures they think shine with elegance and edge

The turn of the century saw Nashville focus strongly on urban development and design.

By the early 2000s and ending in about 2009, the city experienced a building boom resulting in the construction of multiple structures that, combined, would forever redefine Nashville’s manmade environment. These included skyscrapers, mixed-use structures (often combining retail and residential) and various civic buildings and public spaces.

The Great Recession put a two- to three-year halt on development, but by mid- to late 2011, the evolution of a second post-2000 boom was unfolding. Now, that construction frenzy is in full swing, generating a renewed interest in design and development.

The Post asked a handful of local architects and developers to briefly assess their favorite buildings (notwithstanding, of course, those they developed or designed themselves) of the two booms, allowing for a broad approach that could include form, function or even how a project symbolized or energized the city’s built form.

Prior to submitting their answers, the participants were unaware of who else would contribute.

The following professionals participated: Blaine Bonidies, owner of Bonidies Architect; Hunter Connelly, principal of Evergreen Real Estate; J.P. Cowan, associate at Thomas Miller & Partners; Todd Jackovich, principal at Stonehenge Real Estate Group; David Plummer, partner at Centric Architecture; Bea Thompson, partner and director of Nashville operations at Moody Nolan; and Michael Ward, partner at Allard Ward Architects.

Following are the buildings and the comments of our participants.

The Pinnacle at Symphony Place

The Pinnacle at Symphony Place has negotiated an admirable pact with the heavens above Nashville. Proud and unassuming by day, the building mirrors blue sky and fluffy clouds. I appreciate its subtle, well-balanced form as it blends with the sky. At dusk you can enjoy a rich sunset while facing east. At night its position in the skyline becomes more apparent. The broad plaza is well proportioned for Third Avenue. I really admire the well-lit, modern lobby that pedestrians can experience as they pass by.

— Michael Ward






Tennessee Association of Realtors Building, 901 19th Ave. S.

“The [TAR Building] is a compact design that is sited well. The movement on the façade suits the street views. It’s not a glamorous building, or an expensive one, but a building that shows how good design can be accomplished and attempted even on less-traveled streets and more limited budgets.”

— Bea Thompson




Music City Center, Fifth Avenue and Demonbreun Street, SoBro

“This should be on everyone’s list. The overall size and scale of the project is mind boggling. I remember driving down Demonbreun after the road was fully open and the building was [nearly] complete, and the first thing that popped in my head was, ‘This is a big-city building. This is what you see in Denver or Dallas.’ I think we will look back on this 20 years from now and say that the opening of MCC was the pivotal point in Nashville’s development and downtown architecture.  The building is well done with a beautiful design and gorgeous materials.”

— J.P. Cowan

Terrazzo, Division Street and 12th Avenue, The Gulch

“Terrazzo is simply a very nicely designed building. There are places in the world where it wouldn’t stand out, but it’s well detailed — especially when juxtaposed with its neighbor, Icon, across the street — and is way above average for work in the Southeast. The project tried hard to do the right thing by including retail, office and residential. From a simply aesthetic vantage point, I feel that it’s one of the more attractive large-scale projects since the L&C tower. If one considers the intervening office towers built here since 1950, none have the visual refinement of L&C or Terrazzo.”

— David Plummer

“Terrazzo is a great example, in its juxtaposition, to the failed and thoughtless renditions of what a building of that type should be. It is solid, well proportioned and has a look of class and sophistication.”

— Blaine Bonidies


Bell Midtown (formerly 1700 Midtown), 17th Avenue and State Street, Midtown

“Bristol Development should be credited with the initiative and major impact that has ignited the city’s urban apartment development. The company was bold and developed 1700 Midtown in 2009 when none of us could get a deal done in the [bad] economy. Then they achieved rents over $1.80 per square foot, which was higher than in any other market in the Southeast.  The door was then swung wide open that Nashville is the place to be and needs apartment supply.”

— Todd Jackovich


Belmont Lofts, Belmont Boulevard and Linden Avenue, Belmont Hillsboro

“I like the way it blends the historic structure with the new construction. The units have expansive floor plans and ceiling heights, fantastic finishes, and outdoor space that integrates into the neighborhood streetscape.”

— Hunter Connelly